Category Archives: Household: tips and tutorials

Life Beyond Trash and How to Do It

In our seemingly endless efforts to reduce our impact, as well as monthly bills and dependance on outside services, a few months ago we made the scary step and cancelled our trash service.

What would replace it, we hoped, would not be a trash filled garage, but an efficient system of composting, burning, recycling and other seamless elimination of what is commonly known as “trash”.

I am glad to announce that three months later, we have in fact not been buried under trash, but have been successful in maximizing its use and here are some tips on how you too can take the plunge and explore Life Beyond Trash!


To manage your “trash” efficiently it must be categorized and re-invisioned as:

1. Compostibles:

Usually the most abundant trash category in the household. Anything of natural origin that can biodegrade in the composter. (If you don’t have one, you should start one!) This will include: kitchen scraps, grass and yard clippings, natural fabric, non-protein left-overs, rotten fruits and vegetables, chicken and other farm animal used bedding, straw etc.

This category will stay and be processed on the property, adding to the value and nutrients of the garden and lifestock.

2. Feedables:

This is especially helpful if you have animals. (If you don’t, you should get some 🙂 ) A lot of items can be both:  fed to animals AND composted, so it would be up to you to decide which item would serve the best purpose – what your animals like to eat and what is better for the composter balance. This category would include: vegetable kitchen scraps and left-overs for the chickens/pigs/goats/worms etc. Protein left-overs for your dogs/cats etc.

This category will stay and be processed on the property, adding to the value and nutrients of the garden and lifestock.

3. Burnables:

This is anything that would burn well, but slow to break down in the composter, like wood, paper, natural fabrics, hard/dry yard waste that does not decompose easily. Paper and cardboard can be either burned, recycled or turned into vermi-compost, so its up to you. One thing to consider: ashes can be used for the garden, so if you burn the paper you get ashes, if you recycle, you don’t get anything back!

TIP 1: I find that tea bags, even though are biodegradable, do not compost fast enough, but are perfect for burning (just make sure to only get the paper ones!).
TIP 2: We find trash burning a great family bonding time, plus with a few wood logs tossed in – a great opportunity to have a small cook-out dinner: generating energy for cooking while disposing of waste is stacking functions at its best. 🙂
TIP 3: Cardboard shipping boxes make a great weed block around plants or walkway cover. We lay flattened boxes around large plants, such as broccoli, cabbage, squash and it keeps down weeds, while slowly biodegrading and keeping in moisture! Its FREE, breathable and safe, as opposed to plastic. (Just take care to moisten the cardboard and put some dirt down to prevent it from flying away if you have strong winds, like we do.)

(Please use all precautions and burn safely!)

This category will stay and be processed on the property, adding to the value and nutrients of the garden and lifestock. 

burning trash

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Garden Map

When planning your garden out, i find, it is incredibly helpful to have two things: garden map and planting schedule to go with the map.
When approaching the task of garden mapping, a few things must be considered:

1. Crop rotation. Never plant the same type of plant in the same location consecutively – always allow for at least two grow seasons between repeated plantings – this is the first and vital step to preventing repeated disease and pest problems.

2. Bio-diversity. Mixing up your plants ensures less pest and disease problems, as well as provides a richer soil makeup, as differet plants work the soil differently. Patches work better for this purpose than rows. This also makes your garden look more natural!

3. Compatibility planting. When going for the bio-diversity, it’s a great idea to take compatibly planting into account and ensure that plants that grow best together are planted next to each other and plants that do not – far away (3 feet at least). There are many charts available for usage and reference.

4. Light/Drainage preferences. Make sure you know the best location for your plants in the garden, in regards to the amount of light and amount of drainage they prefer. Consider hills and raised beds for plants that require better drainage, planting behind taller plants for plants that need shadowing and/or row covers, etc.

5. Layering and space utilization. It is also a great idea to grow plants that can provide layered structure on the root, as well as, above ground level – alternating deep and shallow rooted plants – as well as taller and shorter –  this utilizes the READ MORE… >